A much better phone than it was
Hardware is excellent: Bright screen, good camera, handsome design. It could be a great phone.
No flash, no front-facing camera.
The Bottom Line:
This could have been a perfect phone, if only Samsung kept its promises about the operating system.
I've been working with Froyo on this phone for a few weeks now, so it's time to update again.
This review is for the Samsung Captivate, AT&T's version of the Galaxy S, also marketed by the other three major U.S. carriers: T-mobile (Vibrant) Sprint (Epic 4G) and Verizon (Fascinate). It is substantially revised from my previous review, and I've taken away another star for Samsung's failure to follow through on promises to give us an operating system that will let us take full advantage of this phone
The hardware is pretty impressive: It has a beautiful, bright, relatively huge (4-inch) screen (sAMOLED), with vibrant color, crisp responsiveness and decent battery life. Side-by-side with the vaunted iPhone 4 "retina" display, the Captivate looks better (subjective opinion) and is bigger (can't argue with that :-))
It doesn't have a front-facing camera or flash, but the pictures the 5mp camera takes are rather awesome. I used this phone to take "the" picture of my newborn nephew that went out to all the relatives to introduce him to the world :)
Connections are standard - a microUSB for charging and data transfer, a standard audio jack for connecting the device to car stereos and other systems. Well done there. It's a quad-band phone (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) capable of global roaming, though it better not go anywhere without me. In addition to 3G, it A can use EDGE and wi-fi to connect; you get free access to AT&T hotspots.
Voice and call quality is decent. The handset is slim, beautiful and comfortable to hold.
Now for the big changes. In my original review in July, I praised how zippy the phone was. Unfortunately, as I've added applications (and I have been careful about what I added) I've watched that performance degrade. There are times when the phone has a definite hesitation factor. The free Advanced Task Killer application has become a lifesaver for me; I can use it to rapidly kill any apps that I'm not currently using. The Hummingbird processor is still one of the faster ones available in phones at this level, however.
The phone shipped with a slightly complex but feature-rich UI. I can sort app shortcuts and widgets into seven "home screens," which you can futz around with to your heart's content. The native Android interface is overlaid with Samsung's proprietary TouchWiz system, andI like the Samsung better (though you can revert to classic Android features in many areas.) I particularly love the Swype system of keyboard entry, which lets you "type" by dragging your finger around the keyboard, using predictive text to speed the process. Now that I'm more used to it, I'm surprised at how accurate it is. The phone also has four hardware keys - Menu, Home, Back and Search (Why not a hardware key for phone? This is a little mystery, but not a big problem) The haptic feedback there is nice since they can be hard to see.
It took way too long to get Froyo/Android 2.2 out for this phone - the operating system that replaces the laggy, low-featured Android 2.1.
But if you buy this phone, you should upgrade the OS immediately. That will give you access to the following features: Upgraded Flash 10.1, giving us the ability to watch movies through Hulu and Netflix, eventually. Better speech-to-text functionality including real voice dialing via Bluetooth. (The fact that a touchscreen phone shipped without voice dialling is baffling to me; this would seem to be a key safety feature.) Enhanced Google Maps navigation. More options for organizing home screens, viewing widgets and picture galleries.
I'm happy again with my Captivate, but I am still a little peeved at how long it took Samsung to release Froyo.